Culture Fair Work Taskforce minutes: May 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 23 May 2024.

Attendees and apologies


  • Briana Pegado, Independent Creative Practitioner (chair)
  • Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture (co-chair)
  • Alastair Evans, Creative Scotland
  • Ayo Schwartz, National Theatre of Scotland
  • Paul McManus, BECTU – Prospect
  • BD Owens, Scottish Artists’ Union
  • Rosie Aspinall Priest, Independent – advocate for rights of freelancers / workers in creative sector
  • Marlene Curran, Equity
  • Mairi Christie, EventScotland
  • Lucy Casot, Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Mairi Taylor, Birds of Paradise
  • Lori Anderson, Culture Counts
  • Ola Wojkiewicz, Creative Edinburgh
  • Mark Geddes, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE)
  • Caroline Sewell, Musician’s Union


  • David Smith, Screen Scotland
  • Francis Stuart, Scottish Trades Union Congress
  • Jeanie Scott, Culture Radar
  • Scottish Government officials


  • Head of Fair Work Convention Secretariat
  • Office of Chief Economic Advisor (OCEA) officials, Scottish Government


  • Robert Kilpatrick, Scottish Music Industry Association
  • Jane Muirhead, PACT

Items and actions


The Chair, Briana Pegado, led a round of introductions and welcomed members to the first meeting of the Taskforce.

The Cabinet Secretary stated that he was genuinely excited about the process. Fair Work First is a hugely important policy for the Scottish Government.

The Chair set out the remit of the taskforce as outlined in the draft terms of reference: “to set the direction of Fair Work through recommending a set of priority actions to further the adherence to Fair Work principles in the sector, including consideration of the form and content of a sectoral Fair Work agreement.” The Chair indicated that the taskforce should look to develop a set of recommendations, which are implementable, and that will support the sector.

The Chair opened the floor to members to share their priorities, provide comments and ask questions, in the spirit of fostering collaboration and an open environment.

The group discussed the change in chairing arrangements, given the loss of the Minister of Culture. 

The Cabinet Secretary stated that he had an extensive workload. However, that having the total overview as one person is an advantage and that he brings continuity and a personal commitment. 

The Chair tasked the secretariat with understanding the willingness and availability of other ministers, such as the Minister for Equalities or the Minister for Social Justice to attend relevant meetings. 

The scope of the Taskforce was discussed, specifically regarding whether it was established to consider all elements of culture. The Culture Radar report that is referenced in the draft terms of reference did not draw on data from the museum and galleries nor the historic environment sector, and there is no historic environment workforce representation on the taskforce membership. 

The Chair confirmed that the intention was to cover the broad definition of culture as set out in A Culture Strategy of Scotland, which is inclusive of the historic environment. There are several sectors, including craft, which are not represented in the membership. There are opportunities to widen representation through the establishment of sub-groups and through presentations. The Chair accepted the proposal to extend an invitation of membership to a historic environment workforce representative.

The Cabinet Secretary asked that the taskforce aim to be flexible and inclusive while being mindful of mission creep. He stated that it was a collective effort to balance this.

The need to include representatives from skills development expert colleagues was also discussed. 

Fair Work Convention presentation

The secretariat of the Fair Work Convention gave a presentation on Fair Work and sectoral Fair Work agreements.

Questions were raised regarding the Fair Work Convention’s views on the use of zero hours contracts. The convention’s view is that zero-hour contracts foster an imbalance of power. There is Scottish Government guidance available on what constitutes appropriate use of zero-hour contracts.

Terms of reference

The applicability of sectoral Fair Work agreements to volunteers was discussed. The Head of the Fair Work Convention Secretariat stated that to date sectoral Fair Work agreements have only focussed on paid workers but the use of volunteers is a pertinent issue for the culture sector. STUC have already developed a Volunteer Charter alongside Volunteer Scotland. The Head of the Fair Work Convention Secretariat indicated that it was at the discretion of the taskforce as to whether to include volunteering in the remit. 

The majority of the group was content with including consideration of volunteers in its remit, however, a concern was raised regarding duplication of work and creating confusion on already established standards. The Chair suggested that Volunteer Scotland was invited to present to the group with a view of disseminating the learning more widely.

The issue of conflict resolution regarding Fair Work disputes was discussed. The group also identified a difficulty in understanding whether Fair Work conditionality applied to certain kinds of contracted work in the sector.

The Chair referenced her experience working across sectors, in different roles, including acting as a freelancer. It was acknowledged that there are many points of tension, pressures, as well as different ways of working across the sector.

It was raised that the term “freelancer” has no legal definition and covers a broad range of working within the sector, however, serves as a useful term that many workers identify as. The Chair tasked the secretariat with providing a glossary of terms regarding the employment status of cultural workers.

The make-up of the culture sector, including the creative industries, overwhelming tends to be small businesses and sole traders. There is very little data regarding businesses which sit under the VAT threshold. There is work ongoing in SOSE to map the creative economy in the South of Scotland. SOSE look at the sector holistically and collectively as work is across all sectors. 60% of the work is sole traders and freelancers for creative economy, and 95% of this workforce have 10 workers or less. It was asked how these practitioners who will also be employed by other sectors can be protected and whether they should be considered in the context of this group.

The difficulty of monitoring of companies set up as short-term concerns, including for the August Festivals was raised. Additionally, how to encourage and monitor companies that are not in receipt of public funding.

Taskforce workplan

The Chair indicated that the issue of the application of Fair Work to freelancers could be addressed in the workplan, as well as the opportunities to improve data.

The group recognised the need for a wider Fair Work education programme, not just for artists but for management and board regarding what is meant by Fair Work. A base level of understanding before putting mechanisms in place to enforce standards.

The group discussed an emerging potentially problematic area in the area of social prescribing. Eleanor Belviore has published research on the impact of this in England. The non-art workplace situation might have particularly high expectations for artists to know everything about the incoming sector, and are often not briefed on how to handle situations, including dealing with violence.

It was raised that payment of the real Living Wage (rLW) can lead to challenges not for organisations to afford creating new opportunities i.e. through apprenticeship programmes where standards for the rLW have come into effect quickly. Small organisations also do not consider applying for public funding to support projects due to the additional burdens imposed by conditionality.

The group endorsed the terms of reference, with caveats on the need to include a communication strategy, add the section on sub-groups and reference volunteers.

The Secretariat confirmed the next meeting will focus on Effective Voice and asked members to provide their suggestions for presentations and agenda items.

The group endorsed the proposed workplan.

Culture Fair Work statistics

There was a short discussion on the analysis of Fair Work in the culture sector provided by OCEA, with a commitment to allowing further time at the next meeting. OCEA officials stated that the analysis provided was not exhaustive, and that the availability of data posed a challenge.

The group was asked to feedback via correspondence on any questions or suggestions regarding the analytical brief.

There was an action for Creative Scotland to look at the possibility of sharing heavily anonymised information regarding Fair Work from the received Multi-Year Funding applications.

The Chair thanked the group for their attendance and engagement.


  • the group endorsed the terms of reference, with caveats on the need to include a communication strategy, add the section on sub-groups and reference volunteers
  • secretariat to advise the taskforce on a way forward in navigating the complexities of definitions, policies and laws relating to freelancers, particularly where someone works in two sectors
  • invite Historic Environment Scotland to be part of this group
  • all to email secretariat of any diary clashes with possible future meeting dates once doodle poll issues and any suggestions for future presentations
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